More than twelve months ago Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership started to work on a project to commemorate the evacuation of children from Tyneside to the Haltwhistle area by train in 1940. With the help of project partners, Wallsend Local History Society, we traced numerous former evacuees who were able to relate their memories of the evacuation and their lives with new families. The events involving former evacuees and local school children planned for summer 2020 had to be put on hold.
This was extremely disappointing for all involved. So many interesting memories had been related by the former evacuees, stories which deserved to be heard by future generations. Other ways to build on the work already done were considered, including a documentary film involving some of the former evacuees and young people from Haltwhistle Film Project. And so, the Wartime Escape film project emerged. Fiona Forsythe explained “this project will bring communities together, young people from Haltwhistle will develop skills whilst interviewing the former evacuees still living in the Tyneside area.”
As many of the usual funding sources were prioritising Covid related projects, the CRP looked elsewhere and found there was a North of Tyne Combined Authority (NCTA) supported crowdfunding opportunity.
Crowdfunding has been a new concept for the CRP, who were pleased to have been able to take advantage of the NCTA initiative. However, this funding mechanism is not without risk; as an all-or-nothing scheme, if the target is not reached then no funding will be in place. Until 29 January, the CRP will need to engage with as much support as possible to reach their goal. Anne Ridley, TVCRP Director, said “with a minimum pledge of £2, it is hoped that lots of people will support us so we can achieve our target of £7000”.
If you would like to learn more about Wartime Escape by Train or support the project by making a pledge, you can visit https://www.spacehive.com/wartime-escape-by-train
Friends of Blaydon Station received a major boost recently when they discovered they had been nominated for, and been given, the Angel Award, which was presented to them by the MP for Blaydon, Liz Twist.
A simple ceremony was held at Blaydon Station where all current rules relating to Coronavirus were followed. Liz Twist MP awarded the Certificate of Appreciation to Friends of Blaydon Station and Station Adopter Joseph Codling. Liz said, “This award is to recognise outstanding contributions made to our community during Covid-19. Thank you for all you have done, you have made a real difference”.
Launched on 16 July 2020, the Angel Awards is a scheme to recognise those making a real difference to the communities in the Blaydon Constituency.
The Friends of Blaydon Station, were founded as the Blaydon Station Adoption Group in November 2018. It consists of four volunteer members, who while small in number have a range of different skills and experiences which create a very flexible and dynamic team. Their aim is to create something the local community will enjoy and be proud of and they:
- Maintain the planters which add colour to the station.
- Maintain the noticeboards and change them regularly to keep them fresh.
- Have commissioned a mural from local artist Sarah Jarman which has attracted over 650 positive social media comments.
- Promote the station.
- Litter picking.
- Update a social media account so the local community know what is happening and remember Blaydon has a railway station, as it is cut off from the town by a busy dual carriageway.
- Maintain links with Northern management, and Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership.
Marie Addison, Regional Community and Sustainability Manager (North East), said, “I am so pleased about this, absolutely fantastic news to cheer us all up during these challenging times”.
Joseph Codling, Station Adopter said “I am delighted that our hard work has been recognised. Blaydon is a lovely town and we are privileged to help improve it”.
Fiona Forsythe TVCRP Officer said, “This is the first time that a Station Adoption Group in the Tyne Valley has won an award. It is so well deserved as a recognition of all the hard work and energy which the team put into developing Blaydon Station”.
Even with the country being in a state of lock down, working and planning continues. Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership (TVCRP) recently held its first online feedback of the Lyric & Line project, which has seen singer and songwriter Gareth Davies-Jones working with three groups with additional needs, using music and songwriting to facilitate experiences of rail travel. The pilot project was funded from TVCRP’s resources and it is hoped that using music to facilitate communities’ voice will continue.
A project to revive the waiting rooms and redundant wooden buildings at Haltwhistle Railway Station has seen work start. This is the biggest project that the Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership has led and will create vastly improved waiting areas for passengers and new studio and office space.
Julie Gibbon, the Partnership’s Company Secretary and Projects Director has been instrumental in engaging with rail industry partners and has driven the necessary preliminary work for work to begin on site.
Julie said, “It is very exciting to see this project starting and becoming a reality”. Julie, who was awarded Outstanding Voluntary Contribution at the 2019 Community Rail Awards, has worked with a range of partners in the rail industry to ensure that the £500,000 project was grant funded. The aim is to completely refurbish both buildings, which will result in improved waiting areas, a welcome to the World Heritage Site of Hadrian’s Wall, and small units available for rent by small businesses and artists. “We would like to see these units used by businesses who are happy to interact and welcome visitors to Haltwhistle, which is a great small town with so much to offer” Julie added.
The work will transform the current drab buildings (as shown on the left) and bring those areas currently out of use back to life. Both are over 100 years old and since the 1960's, part of the buildings have been unused and have deteriorated.
The image on the right is the artist's impression of the completed building on Platform 2 (towards Carlisle).
The project has been supported by industry partners, Northern, Network Rail, Railway Heritage Trust, Community Rail Network, CrossCountry Trains, TransPennine Express and Avanti West Coast.
Tony Baxter, Regional Director (East), Northern Trains said ‘Northern is extremely pleased to support this exciting project which has been the culmination of the fantastic vision and hard work from the Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership. The investment brings new life to the station and is, also, a great opportunity for small businesses looking to acquire premises in a beautiful setting’.
Some two and a half years since the concept was floated, the project has required dedication, vision and some tenacity in obtaining rail industry support, acquring the necessary funding packages and dealing with the myriad of environmental and technical issues a project of this size attracts.
Anna Weeks, CrossCountry Regional Director for the North East and Scotland commented “CrossCountry have been a long-term supporter of Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership and are pleased to be able to support the restoration of the waiting room. It’s a project that sits within the heart of the Haltwhistle community and will definitely enhance the experience for thousands of passengers that travel from across the country to visit every year”.
At this time of difficulty with Coronavirus, when all face to face meetings are cancelled, Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership (TVCRP) have had the opportunity to have achievements recognised. They have become the first community rail partnership to achieve Re-Accreditation in a virtual meeting.